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Comp Together

Samplitude Tips & Techniques By Martin Burrow
Published December 2012

Samplitude Pro X has several powerful tools for compiling the perfect performance from multiple takes.

For those not familiar with the process known as comping, it involves recording the same part a number of times, before editing the best sections from these recordings into one composite take. Samplitude provides two different methods of doing this: the Take Manager and the Take Composer.

I'm going to begin by showing you how to use the Take Manager to comp multitrack drums, but before that, let's look at how you record multiple takes in loop mode. To do so, first set your punch-in and out markers to encompass the section you wish to record. This is done by positioning the play cursor at the desired punch-in and out positions and clicking the transport panel's 'in' and 'out' buttons. This will insert punch-in and out markers. Ensure you have Punch enabled on the transport, and enable Loop Mode by clicking on the transport loop button. Now double-click in the top half of the grid in the marker bar to enable a range between these two punch markers. You will need a count-in as well, so right-click where it says 'click' on the transport panel and set the pre-count measure to the number of bars you require. You will also need Active while Record ticked and, depending on your circumstances, you have the option to enable 'Play VIP during precount' and 'Precount clicks only'. When you're loop recording it also helps sometimes to extend the range some way beyond the end of the punch-out marker to give the performer some breathing space before the next count-in. You can extend the range end to the right or left using the keyboard shortcut Shift+right arrow, and range start to the left/right using the left arrow alone.

You are now ready to record multiple looped takes. Press 'R' to begin recording, and once you have finished, select the recorded objects and press Ctrl+G to group them. (There is also a Project Option to automatically group objects after multi-record: press 'I' to open Project Options.)

Revolver Tracks

Samplitude has a useful feature called Revolver Tracks. Use the Revolver Track contextual menu to create new Revolver Tracks or switch between different versions of your edit.Use the Revolver Track contextual menu to create new Revolver Tracks or switch between different versions of your edit.These are, in effect, playlists which can be used to create one or more alternative comp edits. They can be managed by left-clicking on the Revolver Track (a revolver-type chamber) icon at the top right corner of the track header or from the Track menu. To use Revolver Tracks on multiple tracks, first select the header of the topmost track in your group and then Shift-select the bottom track. All tracks in between should now be selected and the track headers highlighted. Now left-click on any of the selected tracks' Revolver Track icon and choose 'Create new revolver track (copy)' from the contextual menu. If you look at the menu again, you will see a copy has been added to the list. This copy can now be used for comping, giving you the option to return to the original unedited track.

There are a couple of different ways you can switch between the multiple takes you have recorded. One is to Ctrl+right-click on an object and choose your takes from the contextual menu, where selecting a new take will automatically make it active in the VIP. Alternatively, you can open the Take Manager from the same contextual menu or by hitting Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T. Use the Take Manager to make sure you have 'Replace takes on all tracks' ticked, so that your edits stay in sync across all the tracks. If you click on the cog icon you also have the option to enable 'Show all multitrack takes' (although I suggest you leave this turned off) plus options to 'Filter record position' and 'Filter too short takes'. Take note that only the currently selected audio objects will be displayed in the Take Manager, hence the suggestion to group multiple tracks when you're working with multitrack audio.Use the Take Manager to switch between takes. Note the different view settings available. Use the Take Manager to switch between takes. Note the different view settings available.

Now you can audition different takes by ticking the Take 02 box to switch to take 2, the Take 03 box for take 3, and so on. This single click will automatically switch all related objects in the VIP. Alternatively, Ctrl+right-click on a split object in the VIP and select a different take from the list.

Once you've auditioned individual drum takes, you can begin comping. Draw a range over the section you want to experiment with, press 'T' to split the objects, then switch takes as outlined above.This example shows split grouped objects. Ctrl+right-click to choose different takes from the contextual menu.This example shows split grouped objects. Ctrl+right-click to choose different takes from the contextual menu. Remember you can always revert back to the original untouched takes by selecting the first entry in the Revolver Track menu. If you want to experiment further, create a new Revolver Track copy and begin working on that.

Comp As You Are

An alternative method of comping is to use the Take Composer, though its current implementation makes it more suitable for single-track work than multitrack edits. When you've finished recording your looped takes as described above, Ctrl+right-click on the audio object. You will see the takes listed in the contextual menu along with an entry for Take Composer (which can also be accessed from the Take Manager). Select this and the Take Composer will open up in the lower half of the VIP as a separate window. The Take Composer opens in the lower half of the Samplitude window.The Take Composer opens in the lower half of the Samplitude window.

The first track visible in the Take Composer will be the Master Comp Track, and is a duplicate of the currently active take in the VIP. All takes are placed sequentially below the Master Track. You can audition individual takes by soloing them — the Take Composer defaults to using Solo Exclusive mode, meaning only one track can be soloed at a time. Another method is to leave the top Master Track soloed and audition the takes below by selecting the object and pressing Ctrl+spacebar, which will play the selected object in solo. When you hear a part which you want to add to the comp, draw a range over that part and press Shift+C. That selected part will now be inserted into the top master comp track, where it will also be automatically crossfaded providing you have Auto Crossfade Mode enabled. Your selections will always be governed by the current snap setting, but this can be overridden by holding down the Alt modifier.

Another approach to comping within the Take Composer is called Cut Mode, accessed by left-clicking on the small downward arrow positioned at the top left of the Take Composer's grid and marker bar, choosing Cut Mouse Mode from the mouse tools icon list at the top of the VIP, or Mouse Mode/Cut Mode from the Edit Menu. Selecting Cut Mode will turn the mouse cursor into a pair of scissors. You can now use the scissors to 'swipe' a selection, and the swiped selection will automatically be added to the top master comp track.

Once you're happy with your comp, click the cross at the top right-hand corner of the Take Composer window and you will be asked if you wish to Apply Take Composer Changes. Clicking OK will transfer the comp from the Take Composer master track to the VIP track. If at any point you want to resume comping that particular take, make sure all the objects are selected first and then open the Take Composer again.

Finally, a word about how ranges are handled when the Take Composer is open. The VIP range in the upper window takes care of loop mode duties — so if, for example, you want to loop over an eight-bar range, draw it from the top window. When you comp in the Take Composer you'll notice that a smaller range is created, separate from the VIP range. This range marks where the audio will be split, and works independently of the VIP range in the top window.  

Video Tutorial

To see the comping methods described in this article in action, check out the accompanying video tutorial online at /sos/dec12/articles/samplitudemedia.htm.